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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  December 20, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

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continues to be drawn back on the lies of fox news. and what we're trying to help explain to media matters this is all about purpose. this is by definition. this is why fox news exists. it exists to spread misinformation. it exists as a propaganda outlet. they're extremely successful at being -- at propaganda. they're extremely unsuccessful as a news organization delivering accurate information. >> no doubt. and it's coming from the academy community as well. >> absolutely. >> eric bolert, good to have you with us tonight. tonight in our text survey i asked you, does it surprise you that the republicans are blocking a bill that provides health care to 9/11 heroes? 12% of you said yes. 88% of you said, no. that's "the ed show." i'm ed schultz. tomorrow night i'm doing a commentary on the no labels. i hate political fence writers. well, i don't hate them. i just don't think that they serve a very good purpose in today's discourse. "hardball" starts right now on msnbc. we'll see you tomorrow night.
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he took a sad song and made it better. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews down in washington. lame brain. it turns out more smarts in this lame duck than most people expected. this victory lap that we're hearing about may be at least partially something that's well justified. tote up with what president obama has done since his shellacking at election day. oversaw the repeal of don't ask, don't tell. got the country behind on the new s.t.a.r.t. treaty. he repreinvented the republican cavalry if you will from writing in next january and taking credit for that tax cut and a reality that the president's comeback and maybe it's time for his progressive supporters to give him a soup song of credit. another bill that appears headed for passage with president obama's help is the money for 9/11 first responders.
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seriously, what are republican opponents thinking, when both jon stewart and fox news anchor shepard smith say, republicans should be ashamed for passing tax cuts for billionaires while opposing money for 9/11 first responders and cleanup people, you know you're on the wrong side of history. plus, whatever happened to john mccain? how now there, is a great question. whatever happened to john mccain? the one-time maverick is now the leading voice against repealing don't ask, don't tell, against the new s.t.a.r.t. treaty, against the kind of commonsense approach that he was once so admired for in fact endured for. is the man still standing up as the real john mccain, if so what's the name for this man's pain? in case you can't make it, get ready folk, people in south carolina ares dressing up in period costume to celebrate the 150th anniversary. let's see succession led to the deaths of 600,000 americans, and come on, tell me that slavery wasn't actually at the heart of it. so what precisely are people toasting tonight? let me finish tonight with
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what president obama still needs to do if he's going to have a successful presidency. we start with president obama's less than lame performance in this post-election session of congressman. barney franks, a democrat from massachusetts. congressman, you're a veteran member of the congress. you know what good year is, a bad year, what a good lame duck is, a bad one is, how does this square up. >> oh it's bane great year from the standpoint of public policy. let's not forget this is the year in which i obviously had a personal stake, financial reform. we did more for consumers, the bill that was signed by the president in july does more to empower consumers to make sure that they get fair treatment as investors, as borrowers and anything that's been done previously. i think the health care bill was very important. people may disagree with it but it was a significant accomplishment. getting rid of don't ask, don't tell, in addition to having done a hate crimes bill earlier this year is a very important step. getting rid of don't ask, don't tell, basically gets rid of one
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of the major discriminatory laws on the books and it has voter implications. because what it says to america is you know what, gays and lesbians can serve in the military. and if you can do that, you can do anything because of the skills and the courage that that takes. so i think it's been a very good year. now there have been some problems. the budget situation has been negative. and what we've seen in the lame duck is the republicans getting into kind of a reflexive opposition. you correctly pointed out the surprising nature of their initial objection to awarding -- not rewarding but paying medical bills for police every firefighters may have considered their constituents. and understand, chris othis whole lame-duck thing, the notion that somehowf somehow it is illegitimate to do anything unimportant in the lame duck, if you believe that you must think of impeaching the president of the united states is unimportant, because the republicans not only did that in the lame-duck session of 1998, one of the three counts that they adopted against president clinton would not have passed if the people elected the previous
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november had been the voters. so on the whole if you look at the accomplishments, it's been a very significant year. >> i love history, thank you for that. i had forgotten that that was done in a lame-duck session back in '98. let me ask you about this. >> i love that point -- >> i love of what you said about the d.a.d.t. trying to figure out growing up since world war ii how certain ethic groups were age to get through catholics and jews to a large extent became much more assimilated because of their service in world war ii, which was so guantand so integrated, if you will, in the main battles. and now if you have gay men and women who are involved in defending the country, that creates another new revolution of a simulation where people are recognized with having been allowed to do. >> no it's absolutely right. by the way i always wondered what had been the situation if i or other gay or lesbian official had said, we have this important
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idea, let's exempt gay and lesbian people from having defending the country. you talk about people complaining about special rights. they had conferred on us over our objection the special right all time whether a draft or not, but, yes, i was reading the commen comments -- a young 18-year-old who said that i'm against us because we're macho, we're marines and gay men are girly. now i will confess that i left my purse at home. and i'm sorry i didn't live up to his prediction. >> the quote of the night. >> yeah. >> go ahead, barney, i'm sorry. >> having -- giving gay and lesbian people a chance to show in the most important and challenging thing you can do in america that we really are like everybody else except for our choices about what we do in intimate moments. that's a very important breakthrough. this will do more to help us destroy the myth. and look the reality is the enemy is prejudice. one more step in enabling to present a reality that will help the many prejudice across the
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board. >> let me ask you about this -- about the presidency. i know that you've studied it, you're a legislator and a senior legislator, but when you look down the avenue, pennsylvania avenue, iconically at that white house, is there something missing in terms of executive oomph? too many flacks there to be blunt about it, too many people like axelrod and gibbs. but only people that you see are the flacks. are there enough executive structure down there? the republicans seem to be so much better at really bringing in heavyweights chiefs of staff like baker and the democrats. make a change in that direction, the democrats. >> two things, let's when we judge president obama and his successes, not forget, chris, you've been there when you were here, this notion that everything takes 60 votes. it's really an extraordinary de facto wrenching of the american constitution. >> yeah. >> this is -- people shouldn't take this for granted. this is fairly recent. the notion that everything takes 60 votes, that's really extraordinary and it puts great stress on the whole system.
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secondly, and come to the defense, hope the people in your business won't be offended, but we don't choose who is on in the media. the media chooses. there are very substantive people. i work very closely with shean donovan the secretary of hud. one of my regretings is that i haven't had a chance to do much in that affordable rental housing area. we've done too much home ownership and not enough rental housing but shean donovan is a superb effective republican official. but there's nothing scandalous of what he does. i think tim geithner, an example of someone who was kind of caricatured early on who will be seen as a great, successful secretary of the treasury in what's been done in terms of these things. so, yeah, there are a lot of substantive people there. they just don't get as much attention as i wish they would. not for their lack of trying, but because that's the way that things play out. >> touche. thank you, congressman barney frank. happy holidays to you, sir. thanks for that update on anything and in fact a great capitalization of what happened
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this year. chris cillizza is the managing editor of down at the white house and msnbc political analyst. thank you, sir, for joining us. >> thank you, chris. >> you just heard congressman frank. he did a great summation of the whole year. he was the lead guy, the point guy out on fin reg, and the health care bill, very actidentify that, on energy, on that point that he played on that committee and then you get with what has happened since the election. >> yep. >> but that was a hell of a point. it was the republicans who basically trashed clinton after they got beaten, basically, in the 2000 -- rather 1998 election. >> well, first of all, it's always hard to follow barney frank on anything. because he's damn good to television. i'll leave it at that. but what i would say is, here's what's different, chris. health care, financial regulatory reform, economic stimulus, all prelame duck obviously. all not sold all that well by the president. the policy disagree on, plenty people do. the messaging clearly not good.
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republicans won the messaging war. fast forward after the lame duck. the president takes credit and gets credit for the economic -- the tax proposal here, which includes as a big piece of it, the extension -- >> how come his pr was better in overtime. >> chris, you and i both know. have this clarifying quality to them. and i think that's in some ways what happened with this president. look, i think that people were saying the message is screwed up, the message is screwed up. he said, let's wait and see. well, when you lose 63 seats in the house. you lose governships, broadly at the legislative level. i think that he gets the message and says, wait a minute i'm the best communicator that i have for me. i will go out here and sell it more, the difference has been. him selling it better to the problem. >> the proof listening. here it a new cnn poll shows president obama approval rating among moderates rose five points since last month it dropped eight points. fair enough. the liberals and moderates watching. both got the message.
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he moved to the center. >>, chris, i would say that the best thing that happened to president obama from a purely political session during this lame duck, house liberal democrats expressing their displeasure with the tax cut compromise. he looked big. he looked kind of like the level-headed voice, the guy who was looking at the big picture, let's do what's good for america. i don't know if they did it on purpose. my guess is they probably didn't. but that worked to that accrued to the president's benefit. again, the bigger that a president can look and birth, magnanimous, the better for your poll numbers. look, ronald reagan was great at that. always looked big, above things. bill clinton's worst moments is when he was too into the weaves getting into fights over smaller thin things. president obama during the campaign he was always big, grand speeches. this election is about something big. during his presidency at times he got bogged down talking about cloture and senate arcana and debating little things.
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he looked big in this lame duck. and i think that's why you're starting to see the numbers tick up a little bit there he is, we're watching him shake hands with mitch mcconnell. does that argue anything for the future? there he is next to alilison schwartz. probably in the before. from the suburban -- the president of the united states and mitch mcconnell, ever meet again in the next two years. >> both pragmatists, chris. i would say that president obama got re-elected. i think that he's more of a pragmatist. same thing about mcconnell. they both cut this deal because they thought it was good for them in the long run politically. like when you manga trade in the nba. both teams think that they're helping themselves. if one team has another one over a barrel it almost never happens so both sides think that they have the political game here. time will tell who is not have a you are so reasonable. thank you, chris sill as a. >> thank you. >> happy holidays. >> you too. coming up, john mccain has
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emerged as the cheerleader on the opposition on all things. he opposes all things now. what's the story? whatever happened to the guy who was looking for solutions down the middle? the dealmaker? he was the dealbreaker or tries tok. if you live for performance,
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welcome back to "hardball." whatever happened to john mccain, the one-time maverick senator's been one of the most
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vocal critics of the new s.t.a.r.t. treaty. voted against the dream act after being one of the bill's original sponsors, and he went down fighting against the repeal of don't ask, don't tell after saying four years ago, he'd consider altering the military's policy if the pentagon brass requested the change. take a look at what he said on the "hardball" college tour in 2006, and then what he said on the senate floor this saturday. let's listen. >> and i understand the opposition to it and i've had these debates and discussions, but the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and, says, senator, we ought to change the policy, then i think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones that we give the responsibility to. >> i hope that when we pass this legislation, that we will understand that we are doing great damage and we could possibly and probably as a commandant of the marine corps have said and i have been told
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by literally thousands of the military, harm the baflgt effectiveness which is so vital to the support of the survival of our young men and women in the military. >> michelle bernard, and richard wolffe with msnbc political analyst. i have heard from thousands, thousands of individuals who have come. that seems look a hyperbole to begin with, but the animus there, the gut that we heard from john mccain there was real. i don't doubt his belief. i don't doubt it in his mind. he's very much against this policy. but there's an anger there, too. >> well, there's an anger there, but all of this is very confusing because when you talk about you know gays in the military and a lot of the things that mccain has come out against, i keep thinking to myself, is this is same man that we saw speak just two years ago before the national urban league, where he tried to explain his policies on affirmative action and he apologized and said, i was wrong when i initially you know voted against mickey, martin luther king's birthday, a national hop
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day. a complete 180. a completely different human being. i actually question whether or not he means this. i know that he's a former military man but i don't know how you go from one position to another so quickly just in a two-year turnaround time and actually say -- i don't know how you define john mccain any longer. >> richard wolff, very good with the psychobabble. what's going on with him? >> i remember a speech that he gave in 2000 in michigan, he came out portraying himself as luke skywalker. all of the people that he was fighting against the darth vaders were mitch mcconnell, all of the senators, all of the congressmen, that's what we thought he was. maybe his problem is with authority, in general. but it's more personal than we ever thought that it was. more than the principle involved here. here's a guy who taunted candidate obama saying that you have never bucked your party. you have never stood up to your own party. what's he doing now he's the party line guy.
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>> absolutely. he's gone so far right. if you look at him, he has become his former vice presidential nominee. he's become the male version of sarah palin. he's gone so far right. maybe this is what he feels he needs to do to survive if arizona. they've got that new arizona immigration law that the entire state is completely antiimmigrant right now. >> here he is right now, here he is railing against the democrats for pushing through repeal of don't ask, don't tell. and other legislative priorities of the democrats. let's listen. it's tough. >> about six weeks after an election repudiated the agenda of the other side, we are jamming or trying to jam major issues through the senate of the united states because they know they can't get it done beginning next january 5th. somehow think that beginning next january 5th, we will all love one another and kumbaya i don't think so. the american people have spoken in what the president of the united states described as a
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shellacking. and everything we're doing is completely ignoring that message. maybe it will require another election. >> you know there's tough. he's angry. guys, he's angry. >> it's personal. >> he's mad at us. give me a reason that he might be mad at us the media and i try to see this through the other guy's eyes. in the race against george w., a lot of us in the media saw mccain as the reasonable senator and rooting for him the reasonable senator. prepared to be president. this guy has the resume to kill. been a war hero. suffered for his country. the guy that a lot of americans said was traditional american and we rooted like hell for him and then he goes up against barack obama who a lot of us saw as the new kind of american, the new breed american, the guy who is representing another part of the american dream, which is opportunity for minorities and sort of a new breeze. but also like the traditional, you know a lot of americans like both. but this guy was coming -- and mccain had missed his chance. he wasn't as good in 2008 as he was in 2000.
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eight years later he was not the guy as he was in 2000. the darn republicans, they always run the guys last. they run them late. they run them eight years, like bob dole, 20 years later you know? it's just -- nixon. they just kept running the guy. that's their problem but i can understand why he's mad at the media because he was the charmed candidate with the media in 2000 -- >> and gave us all of the access that we wanted. wrong assumptions that people made. he was always conservative on abortion and maybe this is coming through now. maybe he was pandering -- >> by the way, said that he was for getting rid of the don't ask, don't tell if the military came through. >> but i think that only more socially conservative. >> well he's arizona republican. he's an arizona republican. >> if you're going to go out there as the man of principlep i'm the guy who sticks to my guys, i'm the maverick, i adopt care what the party says. if you follow the military leadership, never mind don't ask, don't tell but what the military leadership on the s.t.a.r.t. treaty? the whole national security operator says, pass in treaty. and he's saying no to it. >> so what's his problem. >> i think that it's personal.
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>> what's the certainly in. >> he lost the election. >> he's mad at everybody? >> he misses with your head. just does. and john kerry's still struggling to deal with 2004. >> here is joe klein. let him do the dirty work who does a lot of this psychological study in "time" magazine over the weekend, quote, talking about mccain. his public fall has been spec c spectacul spectacular. a consequence of politics and personal pique. he lost for an obvious reason. his campaign proved him to be puerile and feckless. a trigger-happy gambler. he's made quite a show ever since demonstrating his petulance and lack of grace. so what he's talking about there is when john mccain candidate for president called for a meeting in washington -- a time-out for the campaign, came to a meeting with the president with the other candidate, barack obama. and when the president at that
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time george w. bush turned to john mccain who called the meeting and said what do you think, he said nothing. >> more than that. he took a swipe at obama because he said, i understand seniority. when obama was speaking out of turn, in terms of seniority, he tries to pull the senate rank on him. so this is the middle of this financial meltdown, everyone's looking to him for some kind of leadership. and he starts playing senate politics with the guy. >> and the whole you know wanting to pause the campaign, it did not make any sense of confidence. >> to make your point, i'm sorry. it'll come up in a minute but here on the sheet to make your very point. he wants to be in an evuncular relationship with barack obama. a big brogger. doesn't want to be equal with him. here he is i have said all along that i'll be glad to work with the president, glad to sit down and work with the president on a broad variety of issues but the president's never sought my advice or counsel. >> that's john mccain sucking his thumb. the president doesn't have to come to him and seek his advice and he can offer his advice. >> but he wants to be the senior of americans. >> he does.
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but he has to stick by principle. my question though, is it possible that he's swung in far right because of the rise of the tea party or run again for 2012? he's looking like a president guy. >> the guys who are scared of the crazies on the far right. here's a tense and telling moment, you can tell when i am reading prompter, a tense moment president obama and senator mccain during the health care summit back in february. let's listen. >> i hope that that would be an argument for us to go through this 204-page document. would remove all of the special deals for the special interest and favored view and treat all the americans the same under provisions to the law so they will know that geography does not dictate what kind of health care they would receive. i thank you, mr. president. >> let me just make this point, john, because we're not campaigning anymore. the elections's over. >> i'm reminded of that every
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day. well, could i just say, mr. president, the american people care about what we did and how we did it and i think that we ought -- a subject that i think we should discuss, thank you. >> they absolutely do care about it, john. and i think that the way that you have characterized it obviously would get some strong objections from the other side. we can have a debate about process or we can have a debate about how we will actually help the american people at this point. >> there the president was clearly putting him down. >> absolutely. >> john stuff, it wasn't the honorable senator stuff. it was john, back in your box. >> obama at his best. >> against each other for president, he's treating like the pupil in the class. >> and mccain's probably treating him like i was the senior sneernt oh, yeah. remember that game that people play, teaching people how to relate to each other. >> yes. >> and never get along -- if you are trying to relate as equals and trying to be superior. people want to talk to mr. parents like equals. >> and it doesn't work. >> it shouldn't work. until you get old.
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thanks. interesting subject. i love talking about someone else's personality. wouldn't you like to do it about you. >> enough about me. >> thank you, richard and thank you, michelle. up next with sarah palin taking a swipe at first lady michelle. i think that she was. i think when you might call a cheap shot coming here which we put in the "sideshow" it belongs. ♪ [ male announcer ] you know her. we know diamonds. and with 25% off our best selling jewelry, together we'll find the perfect gift, right down to the wire. that's why only zales is the diamond store.
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back to "hardball." now to the "sideshow." first up mama grizzly unleash. sarah palin last night took a thinly veiled swipe at first lady michelle obama and her campaign against childhood obesity. here's sarah palin in her reality show. >> where's the s'more s. michelle obama who said we
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should not have dessert. >> kill the dessert. the first lady of course is not trying to ban dessert. her campaign looks to ensure that children have healthy food options available. isn't that something that sarah palin with can all get behind. next, joe manchin missing in action. on saturday the u.s. senate took up most of the symbolic of the year. don't ask, don't tell and the dream act. however, did not cast a vote. in fact, manchin didn't show up on the senate floor. where was he? at a holiday party which he called a family objection that he could not break. well another factor that he only saw negatives in voting either way on don't ask, don't tell. had he voted for it high would have been voted in west virginia as a wlib ral, voted against it he would had been the only senate democrat in the country to vote against open service. that's not the kind of brand-name you want to carry the rest of your senate career. being a senator, having to go one way or the other, comes with the job. that's if you show up for it. now to tonight's "big number" a new gallup poll.
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believe in strict creationism. created by god in the last 10,000 years as in the bible. how do you explain argument those dinosaur bones, i ask? how do you explain your oldest living relative. don't you love lucy? no surprise that number's higher among republicans by the way. how high, 52%, a majority of republicans, more than half of the republicans, reject the science behind evolution. 52%, tonight's "big number." think about that one during the primarilies. up next, democrats in the senate may have another big victory within reach. a scale-down version of the health bill to help those 9/11 responders and cleanup people, it looks like it has the votes that it needs to past. senator chuck schumer of new york one of the key sponsors joins us next. you're watching "hardball" only on msnbc. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro.
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roberts. massachusetts republican, senator scott brown, says he will support a new nuclear treaty with russia. that makes six republican votes so far. the treaty will need all of them to make it to the two-thirds' majority required for ratification. security officials in britain, rounded up a dozen men suspected of plotting large-scale terror attacks inside of the uk. meanwhile, forecasts calling for more snow and ice, mean more misery and hundreds and thousands of travelers stranded after worst storm shutdown busiest airports and as well as railroads. the colorado rockies are bracing for a storm that's generated 80-mile-an-hour wind gusts and could dump up to eight feet of snow at higher elevations. the colorado man has been arrested on obscenity charges in florida. 2010 census information expected to show the declining population in an ongoing migration to the southern and western states. now we backf tatake you back to
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"hardball." welcome back to "hardball." there's new optimism today for that 9/11 health care bill, that's bill that provides extra medical benefits to those who responded to and cleaned up after the world trade center attack. this weekend, new york senators kirsten gillibrand and chuck schumer announced they had modified the bill reducing its overall price tag and changing the way it is paid for, but some republicans are still unhappy about it. with us now is new york senator, chuck schumer. senator schumer, after the horror of 9/11, it seemed like we were united as a country, republicans and democrats both, led at that point by a republican president, who would do just about anything to help the people at 9/11. has there been a sea change? why are the republicans imposing this measure of yours? >> well, i don't know if there has been a sea change but almost ten years from 9/11 and i guess that people tend to forget, those of us who were there at
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the towers can never forget the brave firefighters, construction workers who just rushed in. and remember in the first few days we thought there might be -- people that would be alive in the rubble. and so people are forgetting. people come up with excuses. some say this is a new york bill. this is not. first, there are victims in every state. and, second, we don't ask where our veterans come from. are they from texas? are they from iowa? we say, you've served america and we're going to remember that at a time of war you risked your life for us, we'll be there to help you. we should be doing the same for these people. >> tell the country now if you have a minute or two -- >> yes. >> what about the unique health hazards that arose from those who went in, those hundred thousand people, if you count them all, who had gotten involved one way or another in trying to deal with that horror. >> well, the -- they are coming down with cancers that are rare types of cancers. this is not typical. you know some people said someone who smokes say they got
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lung cancer. these cancers are different. they are unique. they come about when you get glass and other particulates in your lungs and your gastrointestinal tract. the average afts people who has died here is 46 and they don't occur for any other reason. so the idea that you know they're all kinds of illnesses that might not had been related to rushing to the tower and the horrible stuff that was in the air then is just wrong. secondly, we've been very careful. we know who was there at the towers. there was strict security the days after. nobody's going to be able to dupe the system. it's not been as comprehensive or thorough. there's been virtually no fraud. so anyone who thinks that the money has been waechted is wrong. they haven't looked at the facts. >> take a look at chris talking here. interviewing jon kyl the number two republican leader as he opposes your measure yesterday. let's listen.
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>> will you vote this week for the 9/11 bill that would guarantee health care to the first responders who went to ground zero? >> i don't know if that bill is going to come before us. but dick tells me just a moment ago that he thinks that it will. first question is, is it amendable or is it a take-it-or-leave-it proposition? the bill has not been through the commit. problems with it. and i think that the first thing that republicans will ask, do we have a chance to fix any problems that may exist with it? it's a lot of money. so my early response is that i'm skeptical about that bill. >> let me answer a couple of things. >> sure go ahead. >> it will come for a vote, leader reid has promised us that. second, we have worked with republicans. that's why the bill is modified. there will be an amendment on the floor. because we went to many of the republicans. we had every democrat supporting the original bill that the house sent us. but some republicans said they didn't like the way it was paid for. we gave them six or seven options. they chose the ones they liked. and that's what's here.
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i believe that we have 60 votes for the bill so we can block cloture, and our plea to senator kyl, we can't ask him to vote for it if he thinks it's the wrong thing to into and although i think if he read the bill thoroughly and studied it he would come to the same conclupgzs that we did. but not to filibuster needlessly. this is now a bipartisan bill, it passed with votes in the house, and we should not christmas eve in particular, turn our book these people who served us in a time of war, are no different than veterans. america has always honored veterans who risk their lives in a time of war voluntarily. we've said if you get injured on the battlefield, we're going to take care of you. it is no different with these firemen, cops, construction workers who did the same thing. >> take a minute for the advantage of the people who are skeptical to tell me that fund-raising or rather the financing plan for offsetting the cost of this measure. >> yes. the financing plans don't -- first, the bill does not cost any money.
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in fact, the pay fors exceed the cost of the bill by $57 million. so it actually reduces the deficit. who do we -- who pays for it? first, there are companies from a group of countries that bid on united states products. and they don't allow the u.s. companies to bid on products from their government and contracts from their government. we put a 2% surcharge on those. it's not the major countries of the world. they have treaties with us where our companies can bid for their government's contracts and vice versa. second, there are certain companies that abuse the h 1 b process by taking foreign workers and bringing them here and training them and sending them home. we increase the surcharge on those companies. they are foreign companies, almost exclusively. 50% of their workers have to be h1b. and third, there was a noncontroversial increase on visas for foreigners that for
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several years paid for travel promotion. we increased that by a couple of years. every one of these is noncontroversial. none of them affect american citizens. and the help, of course, goes to american citizens who helped us in a time of need. >> okay, it's great having you. >> anyone who says -- chris, anyone who says they are opposed to this bill, they're not looking at bill, they're not looking at the facts and they ought to look at it again because the only way this bill will fail is if it's filibustered. otherwise, we have the votes. >> okay, happy holidays to you, senator chuck schumer of new york. the senior senator. thank you, sir. tonight in believe is second a gala event marking 150 years since that state legislature down there voted to succeed for the union. triggering of course the civil war. the event's planners say they're celebrating history, not slavery, but the naacp will be protesting. let's get to that one next. this is "hardball"ime on msnbc. ♪
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here's a name that you won't often hear among potential 2012 challengers, john bolton. the former ambassador to the united nations tells polito he's seriously considering running for president in 2012. it may not be so far-fetched. after all boltin has a platform. he has a regular gig on vicente fox it would probably take a big foreign crisis for bolton to come out of the republican pact and wint nomination, something like armageddon. "hardball" will be right back. ring ring. progresso.
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in south carolina tonight, a succession ball will mark the 150th anniversavenue the state of that state's ordinance of succession which helped this count row. to be celebrated with i ball that will include a play, a dinner and dancing? thomas heighter in. and eugene robinson is a pulitzer prize winning columnist for "washington post" and msnbc analyst. let me go to mr. hiter, sir, tell me why you would celebrate at a ball, the passage of the succession ordinance by the south carolina legislature? >> well, obviously, chris, first of all, i've not celebrating the ball. i'm not at the ball. i'm in front of the tv camera in nashville, tennessee. but the scv certainly supports the right of the people of south carolina to celebrate succession. as our ancestors supported their right to succeed.
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why would i support it? for the very simple reason that we have freedom to peacefully assemble this, this country. you believe that we still have that. >> well the website for the succession gala tonight advertiseds a 45 minute theatrical play re-enacting the signing of the original ordinance of secession. and you say, make your judgment sir, you're on the show to talk about it. do you think it's an appropriate event? >> i don't think it's an inappropriate event. if that's your real question. i don't -- i assume it's appropriate. i assume it's properly planned, well done. had i been invited i might have well attended. i see no reason not to celebrate things that our ancestors did 150 years ago. but by the same token obviously not everyone agrees with that or we wouldn't be having this discussion. >> i know. let me go to gene robinson.
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was it a good thing that south carolina led the movement order ises secession in the confederacy. >> of course not. >> was that a good thing. >> no it was not a good thing and it was an illegal act and the illegality navact was in fact litigated by the civil war. >> right. >> you know, if this was -- this was not something to celebrate, would it be like celebrating some big terrorist attack or something like that, which in fact there was 150 years ago, there was a terrorist attack against ft. sumpter that began the civil war so no it's not a good idea to celebrate secession. it is a celebration of the civi war is about. and by the way, i'm a proud native of south carolina, somehow my invitation to the secession ball must have gotten lost in the mail. but do they have the right to do it? of course they have the right to do it. we do have free assembly in this country, but it's not -- >> you know, some people would say, my son, thomas is an actor, but we went out to one of these
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reenactments in the country, the battlefields, i think they're great to do. it's fine. as a northerner, i think it's fine that somebody plays the south and somebody plays the north and they reenact the courage of the actual soldiers. i can can understand celebrating courage, wherever it is. or most places, not some places. but why would you celebrate a decision, a political decision to break up the union of the united states? >> in the first place, chris, if i may, that was an act of immense political courage. to leave the union was not an act of rebellion, as it has often been called. it was an effort to leave. and they tried to leave peacefully. mr. lincoln did not allow that. and that later caused a war. i disagree, completely, with mr. robinson's comparison of it to an act of terrorism. it was not. it was simply an act of political courage and political will to try to separate
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themselves from a union government that was going in completely the wrong direction. as they understood it at the time. i would agree with him, that the civil war settled the matter. and so no one tries to secede anymore. but by the same token, the litigation was never conducted. never was it taken to court, especially to the supreme court, never was it even debated carefully in legislative venues. it was fought and cold steel and hot lead settled the question. the question's settled. make no mistake. the north won. >> what was -- was mr. robinson correct, i just want to interrupt you a little bit. was he right in saying the war was over slavery? >> i don't believe so, but by the same token, i understand that many people do believe so. our commander in chief, mr. michael givens, recently appealed to mr. al sharpton, who said some extremely disrespectful things about the
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confederacy on a recent tv program that were really, we should be beyond the point of having these name-calling contests, just as we're past the point of shooting at one another. we ought to be able to sit down and respectfully disagree and explore the positions of one another. >> gene? >> well, that's -- with all respect, that's ridiculous. i mean, that's utterly ridiculous. if it were not for slavery, there would not have been the civil war. there were 50 years of fights and battles and tensions over slavery that led up to secession and the civil war. that was the issue. and states' rights was the wrapping and the bow that was, you know, in which the package of slavery was presented. but, in fact, that was the issue. it's just very clear. there's no other reading of history -- >> well, the immediate result of the civil war is the passage of
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the 13th amendment outlawing slavery. i don't know how you can -- mr. hiter, let me ask you one question. last question of the night. why do you deny the civil war was is over slary? are you offended by that charge or what? you think that's not a reasonable assumption? >> i do. abraham lincoln was quite clear in his first inaugurate r inaugural address that he fully supported slavery. he signed the 13th amendment, which guaranteed slavery. the original confederacy was formed by seven states, lincoln's invasion of the south took six more out of the union. no, it didn't start over slavery. before it was over, was sleryav an issue, absolutely. was, in fact, slavery an issue from the beginning? in part, sure. john brown came from kansas and tried to start a slave insurrection in virginia before the war. so was slavery an issue? absolutely. slavery was the great moral issue of that century. and it was a great moral -- >> what side would you have been
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on in that fight to free the slaves? on the side of the slave holders or the slaves? >> that's the fundamental misassumption you're making. the war didn't even involve slavery -- >> no, i'm talking about john brown. was john brown a bad guy or a good guy? >> john brown was a bad guy. john brown was a terrorist. >> okay, thank you. >> and had i found myself alive in those days, i think, i hope to pray to god that i would have felt the way my ancestors did for the south. >> thank you, mr. hiter, for joining us and being so forthright. thank you, gene robinson, for being on the right side. when we return, let me finish with what mr. obama needs to do to ensure he has a good presidency. ♪
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let me finish tonight with some advice for president obama. politico today advanced the argument that president obama should focus on his executive powers, things he can do without getting something through the congress next year. quote, he needs to be ceo of america, john is quoted as saying. he needs a chief of staff who will serve as chief operating officer. president obama should stop staffing the white house as if he were still a senator. he doesn't need a staff operation, he needs an executive operation. he needs a chief of staff who


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